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New verification of overseas qualifications is now required after 6th April 2016 for English language

March 2016

The Home Office recently announced that they are to close down the Points Based Calculator from the 6th April 2016. This was originally used to assist those on points based routes such as Tier 1, 2, 4 and 5. Since the PBS calculator was first introduced, the immigration rules have changed significantly with quite a few categories closing down like the Tier 1 General and Tier 1 Post Study Work routes. The PBS calculator was linked to the NARIC database which confirmed if a foreign degree met the English language requirements for a visa. If the calculator gave 10 points this meant the applicant’s degree provided a suitable level of English to apply for the visa or Indefinite leave to Remain without the need for a separate English language qualification such as IELTS.

What is the procedure after the 6th April 2016?

After the 6th April 2016 all migrants who are required to provide evidence of English language ability must submit a statement from NARIC to confirm that both the degree is at least equivalent to UK degree standards and that it was taught in English. Applicants who have never had their overseas degree assessed before should be aware of having an ordinary degree classification from NARIC. Many overseas students may interpret “Ordinary Degree” as meaning it is a normal bachelors degree, but it means that NARIC has classed the degree one level below a UK bachelor degree and hence, this would mean the qualification is not suitable as evidence for English language ability for a visa application. NARIC has setup a specific Visa and Nationality help team to assist with these inquiries and will roll out a new system specifically for migrants to use, which is connected to the Home Office.

How long does NARIC take to asses a qualification?

This depends on the country you are located (shipping times can vary) and difficulty of assessing the qualification. NARIC state it can between 10 to 15 working days and with fast track service up to 2 days to process. An easier alternative to NARIC may be to sit a Secure English Language Test - IELTS B1 English language test. Although a migrant may already have a high level of English language skills, sometimes it’s easier to book into a local IELTS centre, take the SELT exam and get the certificate, than to go through the application process with NARIC. It is also worth waiting to view what new system NARIC release, as this may be a more streamlined process.

I’m applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain and my qualification was already accepted before the 6th April 2016, will they still accept my qualification?

The short answer is no. After the 6th April 2016 you will need a statement of comparability from NARIC or use their new visa and nationality service to ensure your qualification has been assessed. This is important for those who are already living and working in the UK on Tier 2 and other visas, who have previous submitted this evidence. They will have to follow one of the new alternative methods to ensure they meet the correct criteria. This process normally doesn’t apply when extending a points based system visa such as Tier 2, but only when an initial application is made or an application for Indefinite leave to Remain or Citizenship.

William Masson
[email protected]